Upset YouTube Users Strike Back at Music Biz

Employees of Sony, (s SNE) EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal Music aren’t welcome here: That’s the message an increasing number of German bloggers and website owners are conveying online these days through a new project called Bust All Major Labels.

Geo-blocked content on YouTube...

The project is a reaction to the fact that rights holders have blocked hundreds of YouTube (s GOOG) music videos in Germany, and it uses a kind of eye-for-an-eye approach to get its point across: Website owners add a few lines of JavaScript code to their site to actively block visitors with IP addresses owned by major labels.

Bust All Major Labels even copies the message YouTube shows its visitors when videos are blocked in a certain geolocation, albeit with a few differences. Employees of major labels are shown the middle finger, with a warning that reads: “The content of this site isn’t available for you. We’re not sorry at all about this.”

... and on German blogs. Can you spot the difference?

The two people behind the project are Christoph Maeschig and Mathias Keswani, who told German online magazine that they’re not doing this to fight the man. “We are not trying to say that record labels are bad,” said Keswani, adding, “We are just trying to say that we are annoyed.”

The heart of the conflict is that German rights holders haven’t been able to agree with YouTube on royalties for music videos. Germany’s performing rights organization GEMA is currently battling YouTube in court on this very issue, and more than 600 videos have been blocked on behalf of rights holders. A number of musicians have taken issue with this measure, complaining that they’re losing an important promotional opportunity, and many local Internet users have voiced their displeasure as well.

Maeschig and Keswani don’t expect that Bust All Major Labels will actually help to resolve the issue, but the duo told that they really just wanted to make a point. Said Keswani: “Record labels and YouTube are somehow working together in the U.S., generating millions in profits. Why can’t we do the same in Germany?”